I took the kids to Staples tonight. Luke needed a few school supplies for his open house tomorrow. While we were there, they both asked me for a few things. Luke wanted a silly pen, Emma wanted a pack of pens, and they both wanted miniature multi-colored post-it notes. I said yes to all of their requests and we headed to the other side of the store to look at a few things I needed.
When we got to the register, I told the kids to put their stuff on the counter. I paid, and we left.
Got in the car and Luke asked for his stickies. I said, "Emma, do you want yours, too?" and she looked at me for a second and said, "Yes." I dug through the bag but could only find one pack of stickies.
"There's only one pack in here. Emma, did you put yours on the counter?"
"Oh. Well maybe they're still on the counter or they fell on the floor in the store because they're not in here. Do you want to go back in and get them?"
"No. Let's just go home."
"Are you sure? Honey, let's go back in and get them. I know how badly you wanted them."
"No, that's okay, let's just go home. Maybe we'll find them in the bag when we get home."
"No honey, they're not in here. Wait, let me check the receipt to see if he charged us for 2." I check the receipt. "No, there's only one on here. Let's go back in and get them."
"No, mommy, I just want to go home."
So we leave. We are almost home and she says, "Uh, mommy?"
"Um, my stickies are here."
"What do you mean?"
"My stickies. They're here. I have them."
"Do you mean you have Luke's stickies?"
"No, I have my stickies."
"Emma, we don't have your stickies."
"Uh, yes we do, they're right here in my car seat."
"Emma, how did you get your stickies?"
"Um. Um. I took them from the store."
"Emma, you stole the stickies?"
"No. I just had them in my hand and forgot to put them on the counter."
"Emma, you didn't have them in your hand when we left the store."
"Yes I did. I had them hiding behind my back."
"Emma! You stole the stickies! Honey, we don't steal!"
Luke chimes in: "Emma, you can't steal. The store is going to call the police and you're going to go to ju-ve."
(I didn't even know he knew that word.)
"Emma, we are going back to the store so you can tell them what you did and give them back."
"NO! MOMMY, NO!"
"Yes, Emma. You cannot steal. Mommy was going to buy them for you, why didn't you let me just buy them? If you really forgot to put them on the counter, why didn't you just tell me you had them when I was looking in the bag? Honey, we could've gone back in the store and bought them. What were you thinking?"
"Emma, when we get to the store, you are going to talk to the manager."
"NO! Not the MANAGER! What's a manager, mommy?"
"The guy in charge of the store. You're going to apologize to him, pay him for the stickies and then give the stickies back to him."
The stickies were on sale this week. For a whopping $0.50. They could've been a penny. That's not the point. We don't steal. We don't hide things behind our back as we're walking out of the store. We right our wrongs. We admit our mistakes (or bad choices). We apologize. We make restitution.
The Bible has a much harder stance on restitution than the dictionary does. The Bible says we should give the stolen property back - and 20% more. Because Emma doesn't understand percentages - nor did I think that math would make a difference here - I decided she would pay the $0.50 AND give the stickies back to the store.
"But I don't have any money!" She tried to argue.
"You can pay me back when we get home."
When we got to the store, I went back to the register and asked the kid if we could talk to the manager. He asked me if there was a problem and I just said we needed a manager. He paged him. He came to the front of the store and said, "Is there a problem, ma'am?" (How am I a ma'am??? I digress....) I said, "She has something she needs to tell you."
He looks at Emma. Emma looks up at him. "Yes?" he says to her.
"Um... Um.... I forgot to put this up on the counter when mommy was paying."
"And?" I prompt her.
"And I hid it behind my back when we were leaving the store."
"Oh" says the manager, "That's not very good..." and he glances at me. I nod my head and he looks back at her. "Emma, what else do you want to tell the man?"
"I'm sorry," she said. "I forgive you. I appreciate you telling me," he said.
"What else, Emma?" I prompt again.
"I want to give you this money." She reached her little hand up to his and placed the two quarters in his hand.
"Thank you, I really appreciate that," says the man.
"And here are the stickies. Mommy says I can't have them today. Maybe another day." and she handed him the stickies.
"Thank you. You made a good choice coming back here tonight. Thank you so much for telling the truth."
"Are you going to call the police?" asks Luke.
"No, I am not going to call the police, I am just glad you did the right thing. Thank you young lady!"
He shook her hand and we left the store.
My heart was pounding for her. I was a nervous wreck for her. But I knew it was the right thing to do. And I'm hoping it was a lesson learned. I was really proud of how she handled herself, and I let her know that.
When we got home, I called my parents. I told them what happened and they assured me I did the right thing. In fact, my mom said she stole a piece of gum that cost a penny when she was a little girl and my grandma did the same thing with her. She said she never forgot that lesson - and never did it again.
I knew I liked that lady!! Who knew I'd grow up to be just like my grandma. What a blessing considering how much I loved her!
I cannot for the LIFE of me figure out why Emma did this. I said I'd buy it for her!! Why did she sneak it out of the store?!? I may never know, but I hope that she has learned a life long lesson.
Thank you, Staples Guy. You helped to teach an important lesson. Thank you for your understanding of the importance of this - and thank you for the grace you showed my daughter.
That was easy.
Sorry, couldn't resist ;)